High-Tech Sprayer Zaps Weeds with Less HerbicideBy
A high-tech sprayer equipped with a light reflectance sensor scours the
ground for weeds and kills them with less herbicide than conventional sprayers
use, Agricultural Research Service
The new device, an eight-row hooded sprayer, uses its sensor to distinguish
differences in light reflected from bare soil versus weeds in the area between
rows of planted crops. It applies herbicides only where weeds are present. The
sprayer was developed for row crops through a Cooperative Research and
Development Agreement with Patchen, Inc., of Los Gatos, Calif., and scientists
at ARS' Application
and Production Technology Research Unit in Stoneville, Miss.
ARS researchers tested the sensor sprayer as part of the Mississippi Delta
Management Systems Evaluation Area project, which was begun to study how
agricultural production practices affect the water quality of three Mississippi
Researchers evaluated the weed-sensor spray technology as a way to cut
herbicide use for cotton and soybeans grown under conservation tillage. During
the 2-year ARS study (1996 and 1997), herbicide savings averaged 78 percent on
105 acres of cotton and 51 percent on 115 acres of soybeans over the two growing
The scientists say this technology will help farmers by minimizing herbicide
use and will cut costs while reducing the environmental impact of agrichemicals
on water supplies.
Scientific contact: James E. Hanks, ARS
Production Technology Research Unit, Stoneville, Miss., phone (601)
686-5382, fax (601) 636-5372, firstname.lastname@example.org.